Weekly Blog

Monday 26th May

Hi there!  This is the inaugural edition of my weekly blog.  It will appear on the site every Monday, and its humble role in life is to keep you up to date with what I’ve been up to for the last seven days.  Any comments via the ‘Contact Steven’ link on the site would be much appreciated – it would be nice to know that there’s someone else reading this!

Firstly, I hope you’re enjoying my website, which I’ve been working on for the last few weeks with web designer Christine Woods.  I’ve known Chris and her partner Jay for a number of years as they share a similar love of loud rock music to me and my wife, Lisa.  Chris was responsible for all the technical wizardry that goes in to bringing a website to life, along with most of the artistic design aspects, while I contributed a few words here and there which I kept changing on a daily basis (I’m a writer – that’s what we do!).  We’re both very pleased with the site, and we’d love to hear your thoughts.

As you’ll (hopefully) be well aware by now, my debut novel ‘Justice For All’ comes out in the UK and Eire on the 15th August 2008.  As the release date nears activity is ramping up.  The sales team at my publishers, MIRA Books, are now in the process of approaching all the major UK retail outlets to convince them to find space on their shelves for this blockbuster in waiting, and I’m pleased to report that the initial signs are very encouraging.  Stay tuned for more news in the coming weeks.

Prior to the release of ‘Justice For All’, I’ll be making my first public appearance as a bona-fide author at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival in July.  I attended Harrogate as a punter last year and found it to be an exhilarating three days of words, wine (or indeed any other alcoholic beverage you care to mention), and women (turns out there are more female crime fans than male).  What impressed me most was the friendly atmosphere that pervaded the whole event.  Where else could you have a chat with Lee Child in the hotel foyer, have lunch with Paul Johnston in the local pub, or down a pint or two with Harlan Coben at the hotel bar?  If you’re a fan of the genre and you’re in the locale, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

In addition to Harrogate, I’ve also been invited to attend another crime festival that Borders are putting on in Teesside.  The event runs from the 24th to the 27th of October, and I’ve been asked to either host a workshop for aspiring writers or to give a talk on how I came to be published.  As someone who’s very new to all this, it’s kind of weird to think that I’ll soon be seen as something of an authority on such literary topics.  Having spent most of the last three years locked away in my study bashing away at a keyboard, I may need to polish up my social skills before stepping out into the spotlight!  And talking of things that are kind of weird, next week I have my first meeting with my publicist from MIDAS PR.  If you’d have told me that I’d be using the phrase ‘my publicist’ back when I first started writing Justice For All, I would have told you to double the dosage!  It’s all pretty surreal.

In other writing news, the follow up to ‘Justice For All’ is currently entering its final stages of editing, and will hopefully be signed off and ready to go soon.  I’d give you a title if I had one, but I don’t, so you’ll have to wait – let’s just call it ‘Book Two’ for now – but I can at least give you an idea of what it’s about.  ‘Book Two’ is a sequel to ‘Justice For All’ and it features the same lead character, ex-cop and regular tough guy Zac Hunter.  In this book, Hunter receives a cry for help from Angel Cortez, a beautiful Latino gangbanger who was a snitch for him back in the day.  As events unfold, Hunter is drawn ever deeper into the murky underworld of Los Angeles gang life, where he crosses swords with an enraged Native American and is forced to cosy up to a drug-addled drug dealer, all the while not knowing who he can trust. 

It might seem odd talking about finalising ‘Book Two’ before ‘Justice For All’ is even released, but that’s the way the publishing industry works.  There’s a long delay between delivering a completed manuscript and seeing it in print, as publishers need to mass produce it, sell it to trade, and market it, all of which takes a lot of time and a lot of effort from some dedicated and talented people.  Indeed, there’s such a long delay that I’ve now started working on my third book in the Hunter series, provisionally entitled ‘The Beholder’, but there’ll be more on that in future blogs.

On the social front, the big news last week was the fact that Public Enemy, the world’s all-time greatest rap band, were playing in my hometown, Norwich.  They were over in the UK to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the release of their seminal album ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’, and they were in Norwich ahead of playing some larger venues in London.  When they didn’t come on stage until ten p.m. a few of the crowd were getting restless as the venue usually closes around eleven, so the prospect of a lengthy set looked bleak.  How wrong they were!  The band barrelled through the album from first track to last, then played a load more stone-cold classic P.E. tracks, and by the time they’d finished it had gone midnight.  Chuck D’s fierce intellect was still in full effect as the flames of righteous indignation burned stronger than ever within, while Flavour Flav bounded around with the energy of a man half his age as he played the role of court jester to Chuck’s angry orator. 

‘It Takes A Nation…’ still sounds fresh and essential twenty years on, but I was most impressed by the band’s dedication to the cause.  They’ve been in the business for over two decades, played live all over the word to innumerable people, and yet they still give there all to a thousand or so fans at a small gig on a Thursday night.  Thanks guys – it was an honour to be there.

Next week, I’m venturing to London to see another giant of music in an intimate venue – Bob Mould.  Bob’s one of my all time favourite artists, both for his solo work, his genre defining stint in eighties alternative rock band Husker Du, and his incredible output with power pop juggernaut, Sugar.  I’ll give you a full review next Monday, as long as I don’t spontaneously combust with excitement in the meantime!